Your Partner Portal is not a Website

Updated July 17, 2024
Published in Channel Management, Partner Portal Management

Once in a while, we come across a prospect that puts a lot of stock into their partner portal’s appearance and wants it to look exactly like their website — beyond basic colors, logos, and branding.

But making your partner portal have the identical look and feel of their public-facing website can lead to significantly greater costs, sometimes 5 to 10 times the first-year cost of a PRM solution. The worst part? Usually, that effort doesn’t equate to an increase in partner engagement.


The truth is, look and feel don’t matter much to partners. If they can register deals, use MDFs, and leverage your resources and training, they’re gaining value.

Spending ample time and money creating or purchasing a beautiful portal may not meet your ROI expectations in the long run and will limit your GTM budget for strategic co-marketing and events in the process.

How is a Partner Portal Different From a Website?

Don't confuse your partner portal for a marketing website.
Don’t confuse your partner portal for a marketing website. It’s a critical partner engagement and productivity tool.

A partner portal isn’t the same as a company website. It’s not a marketing tool — it’s a critical partner engagement and productivity platform.

Because a partner portal is a business application, not a marketing website, the driving factors for the user interface are fundamentally different.

Websites need to capture a prospect’s attention and convert them to a lead. Look, feel, imagery, information, and navigation are all focused on that one outcome. Websites are constantly being optimized for that singular purpose.

Partner portals, by contrast, have multiple drivers behind the user interface. Ideally, partners are already “converted” by the time they join your portal based on conversations they’ve had with your partner management team. That means the partner portal must provide intuitive access to relevant information, partner workflows, and the ability to offer actionable feedback.

Simplicity, consistency, and familiarity of your partner portal UI are drivers of program success:

  1. Your enterprise partner portal is for partners you’ve already won. The goal now is to try to make them productive. Window dressing does not matter to productivity. Good UI design does.
  2. Your partners’ goal is to make more sales and to do that, they need the right information to get up to speed quickly. Spending extra budget on look and feel isn’t necessarily going to move the needle. 
  3. For your partner portal to match your website, you must update it every time your website is refreshed. Typically, users aren’t a huge fan of major changes to UI, which decreases portal usage. Using a partner portal tailored to the partner experience, on the other hand, increases portal usage, and, in turn, partner engagement.
  4. Business application user interfaces need to be intuitive. Partner portals that adopt UI conventions of widely used social applications such as Facebook make it easier for users to find and use your resources. Their mind is already trained to look for standard navigation and iconography, decreasing the chances they get distracted by marketing messaging or images that are really meant to impress your customers.
  5. Choosing Partner Relationship Management (PRM) portal software designed under the principles and guidelines of a business application will result in faster ramp-up time, ultimately leading to greater engagement and productivity.

The growth of your channel partner program is dependent on meeting your strategic goals, whether that’s an increase in partner engagement, consistent deal registration, MDF use, ease of lead distribution, or all of the above. When choosing your PRM, select a solution that truly enables your partners — the fuel for your partner-sourced revenue engine. And remember your partner portal is not a website!

Partners are more likely to use a tool targeted to their specific program needs, geography, or role in the company. That’s why Channeltivity’s partner portal software is highly flexible, and customizable to each partner. This targeted approach decreases time to value, increasing engagement and boosting your bottom line.

For more on selecting the right PRM solution for your channel program, read our free ebook, ‘9 Questions to ask before selecting a Partner Relationship Management Solution’

More Helpful Resources:


Perfect Your Deal Registration Process in 7 Steps


How to Choose the Best Partner Portal for Your Team